Oceans Unmanned is collaborating with Melissa Schiele, a Ph.D. researcher at Loughborough University's School of Mechanical, Electrical, and Manufacturing Engineering, in the Indian Ocean to create easy ways for gathering photographs of ocean and beach plastics utilizing drones.
The data obtained by drones, primarily the Aeromapper Talon fixed-wing UAV, will be utilized to create a baseline aggregation, deposition rates, and categorization database.
The project is being carried out in conjunction with Oceans Unmanned, the Marine Research and High Education Center (MaRHE – University of Milano-Bicocca), and with the help of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands.
“We flew the Talon at 80m and 100m altitude and were impressed with the orthomosaics produced in Agisoft Metashape [photogrammetry software] of the seagrass beds in Magoodhoo island,” Schiele reportedly said. “The drone flies at around 55kph, which is a little nippier than our Mavic and Phantom [drones] we were also flying.”
Oceans Unmanned uses drones help to track pollution
“Currently, we are working on methods for analysis and will be inviting local academic stakeholders to join our research group officially. The project stakeholder map is growing large, very quickly, and building capacity in situ is a core objective for us.”
Over 1,100 species of fish and 180 types of coral inhabit the world's seventh-largest coral reef system in the Maldives. Dr. Sol Milne, a former Ritz-Carlton resident naturalist and inventor of a machine learning technique for detecting ghost nets in drone photographs, has devised a solution to this issue of discarded or lost fishing nets.
“He has net data from around the world, and he and I worked to get net data from around the resort in the Maldives,” said Schiele. “It's an important part of our work in the Maldives as nets are everywhere and spotting them is difficult until they are upon you.
“Kat Mason, another former [Ritz Carlton] naturalist, intercepted an Olive Ridley turtle in a ghost net on a routine drone flight – a real proof of activity concept if I ever saw one! The turtle was rescued.”
Using tethered DJI Matrice 210 and Mavic drones, Oceans Unmanned is also monitoring and tracking pollution in the Pacific Ocean's Great Garbage Patch.
Photos courtesy of Oceans Unmanned and M. Schiele.
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